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Absentee voting guidelines should be eased during the COVID-19 pandemic

At the very core of our society is the right to vote, the right to have a say in who represents us in city hall, the courthouse, the statehouse and the White House.

In a representative form of government, having the ability to participate in an election, cast a ballot and have your voice heard through the ballot you cast is what has continued to keep our country strong — regardless of the results — for 244 years.

It is that act of voting, that pillar of our society, that now comes calling for all of us on Nov. 3. But, just as with everything else this year — this blasted 2020 — this year’s general election comes at an unprecedented time.

And at this time, a time when local, state and federal officials — both elected and health — have urged social distancing, the wearing of a mask and limits to gatherings to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it is beyond comprehension why there seems to be an aversion to expanding the exemptions to request an absentee vote.

Currently, there are two lawsuits filed by Mississippi residents and organizations against Secretary of State Michael Watson and others, to give voters the ability to request and fill out an absentee ballot for the general election if they have concerns about voting in person during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is not an unreasonable request and an exception should be made for this year of all years.

In no way are we advocating for mail-in ballots, scratch-off lottery ballots, or free-for-all easing of election guidelines such as registering and requiring photo ID. This is simply allowing those who have concerns to be able to take part in this crucial election, while still doing so in a manner that makes them feel safe.

It would be nice if state officials understood this concern and did the right thing. Allow worries about the COVID-19 pandemic as a viable reason to allow someone to cast an absentee ballot.

It does not require a change to our election system, or the processes in place. All it does is apply a common-sense solution to a very 2020 problem.